Mars Society Convention 2005
The eighth annual Mars Society convention was held in Boulder, Colorado August 11-14, 2005. I've attended every Boulder convention since the Mars Society was founded in 1998.
Until this conference, it had been uplifting to be at one of these events, surrounded by hundreds of forward-thinking, optimistic, and knowledgeable people. There were in fact many things to celebrate, not the least of which being the existence of a national space policy oriented toward expansive manned exploration and a NASA administrator who was more than capable of implementing it. The Society had developed into a cohesive, enthusiastic, and effective advocacy group with a set of impressive achievements under its belt. Several members had become close friends as I worked alongside them, and I still very much felt a part of a growing, healthy, extended family. Like most conventions, and the Case for Mars conferences before it, there were speakers addressing multiple facets of achieving the goal of getting people to Mars, typically with a heavy emphasis on the nuts-and-bolts of mission design, hardware, and Mars science. There were multiple speakers addressing the thorny social and legal issues surrounding settlement of Mars and space in general. And I wasn't the only person to feel like I'd heard most of it before, which I attributed to the introduction of new blood into the ranks.
My discomfort at this event was due to my recent awareness of the unfolding global disaster both caused by, and threatening, our technologically driven civilization, a disaster which could ultimately sabotage the underlying infrastructure that such a high-tech endeavor as space exploration most critically depends upon. My presentation, Settling Space: Implications for Population Growth, was an attempt to present facts, analysis, and trends that supported the thesis that we had a closing window of opportunity to do no less than determine whether humanity would have a short, painful future, or a long, thriving, and potentially open-ended one. As a result, I believed I had succeeded in at least inspiring some people to think more about the issue. At the time, I thought it was the best I could do, but I knew I needed to do much, much more.
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